As Gauteng schools prepare to reopen on 1 June, the provincial education department says it is concerned about a mining area on Johannesburg’s West Rand, where more than 160 miners have tested positive for Covid-19.
Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said the department was seeking advice from the health department about schools in Wedela, an area situated in the Merafong district, between Western Deep Levels and Elandsrand mine.
Fin24 previously reported that 164 miners from Ashanti’s Mponeng mine in the Merafong district tested positive for Covid-19. Most of the miners were reportedly asymptomatic.
The MEC was speaking during a visit to Ga-Rankuwa Primary School on Tuesday where he was inspecting compliance ahead of its reopening.
Grades 7 and 12 pupils are expected to be the first to return to school from 1 June after being at home for more than 50 days.
Ga-Rankuwa Primary School was among schools that experienced delays in the delivery of personal protective equipment (PPEs) due to the issuing of the distribution tender.
Lesufi said he would be meeting with the business people to explain that the department was not involved in the distribution of PPE tenders but that the health department was steering dissemination.
Lesufi pointed out that the education sector was only involved in the cleaning of schools and that it had issued R15 000 to each school for this purpose.
Turning to the issue of the mining area, Lesufi said the department would seek guidance from the health department on whether schools in Merafong should open or not.
Classroom at Ga-Rankuwa Primary School(Sesona Ngqakamba, News24)
“We will be guided by the MEC for Health and the premier if [schools in the area] will have to delay opening because we have to run a battery of tests before. That’s one red spot (hotspot) we are currently having in the province,” he said.
Ga-Rankuwa Primary is the second school the MEC visited this week.
He visited Bryanston High School on Monday. The school said it was ready to welcome 137 Grade 7 pupils who would be split into six classes. Lesufi viewed the school’s nutrition centre as well as classrooms to ensure that they met Covid-19 safety standards.
“We went to the school nutrition centre because that’s an area where we are very worried, because that’s where the movement will take place. So, we want to be sure of social distancing [ and] availability of water so that people can clean and wash areas because there are strict protocols on when to prepare the food and ensure the facility is clean,” said Lesufi.
The MEC urged schools to take a safety-first approach and to halt opening if they are not ready.
Ga-Rankuwa principal Ernest Boikanyo said preparations were finalised on Tuesday morning.
Boikanyo said the school had sought assistance from community volunteers instead of relying on the department to deep-clean.
He said sanitising and deep-cleaning at the premises had taken place last week Friday and PPEs were received on Monday.
The school has four thermometers so that officials can check temperatures, and screening documents are also available.
Boikanyo said staff at the school were ready and that the school would do its best to ensure that everyone is safe.